Monday, May 07, 2007

Los Angeles Police Chief offers strongest apology yet

Bratton says officers' conduct at May Day rally was indefensible and that they won't return to street duties until they are retrained.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that:

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton on Sunday offered his strongest apology yet for the actions of an elite platoon of Metropolitan Division officers who swarmed a May Day immigration rally in MacArthur Park, and said that those officers are off the streets until he finds out what went wrong.

Saying he watched extensive videos of Tuesday's incident, which left several reporters and rally attendees injured by batons and rounds of foam bullets and sock-like projectiles, Bratton called the officers' conduct indefensible.

"I feel comfortable apologizing…. Things were done that shouldn't have been done," Bratton told a group of journalists who gathered at the KTLA-TV Channel 5 studios in Hollywood. "I'm not seeking to excuse it…. As one human being to another, there were things that shouldn't have been done."

Bratton said the 60 or so members of the Metropolitan Division's Platoon B have been "stood down" and won't return to active street duties until they have undergone retraining that meets his level of comfort.

"Some of them in all likelihood won't be returning to the Metropolitan Division as a result of our findings," he said.

Any disciplinary action won't come until the LAPD issues a May 30 report to the City Council. "Some of this will be career-impacting," Bratton added.

The chief made it clear that incident commanders would be just as accountable.

He said the officers in the Metro unit, an elite corps of men and women trained in various crises including crowd disturbances, had 15 to 25 years on the force and are among the most highly trained of the LAPD's 9,500 officers.

"This was my best, and that was what was extraordinarily disturbing about this," Bratton said.

The police union warned Sunday that remarks being made publicly by the city's leadership could have a paralyzing effect on officers' morale.

"We should be waiting until all the facts are in before anyone judges this issue. As a detective, I can't decide something based on one piece of evidence," said Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. "This is having a profound impact not only on Metro, but every police officer in this city. We are being damned before a trial or investigation."

The chief acknowledged at the meeting, organized by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, that a 2002 agreement to protect journalists and the public — prompted by similar scenes at the 2000 Democratic National Convention — wasn't followed last week. (The agreement included a so-called safety zone for reporters covering news events.)

"Clearly, a number of my officers were in violation," Bratton said, noting many reporters and members of the public were unaware of an order to disperse as a skirmish line of officers swept from the southeast corner outward across the park.

The dispersal order was given in English from a helicopter that was not over the park where the predominately immigrant crowd was gathered.

The complete story may be found here:,1,5376332.story?coll=la-headlines-california&ctrack=3&cset=true


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